An investing platform is an online service that allows you to buy, sell and hold funds. When it comes to choosing an investing platform there are many to choose from. Which can make it difficult to know which one is best suited to your needs.
Investors are able to do this themselves directly on a non-advised basis via a D2C platform or through a financial advisor who will invest on your behalf. Researching and comparing different online brokers and trading platforms can help you find the one that meets your investment requirements.
How investing platforms work
Investing platforms allow investors to manage multiple products from a single platform and being online means that investors can view and monitor the progress of their investments at any time and from a location that is convenient for them.
This ease of management makes it possible for investors to quickly react to changes in the market and make adjustments that could help them win gains or prevent losses. But all this comes for a fee, and the charges can vary between platforms.
It is vital that investors are aware of the charges they will be liable for when choosing an investing platform as it will impact their returns. Some of the most common fees include fund dealing, admin, exit and ongoing adviser charges. Less common fees include a one-off setup fee when you open the account.
Investing platforms have become very popular in recent years and can provide a tax-efficient way to hold investments. While the funds offered can vary between providers, investing platforms can provide access to a wide fund range.
Types of investing platforms
With so many investing platform options to choose from it is important that you first determine what you want the platform to do for you and the types of products you want to invest in. Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade, tastyworks, Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab are among the best online brokers and trading platforms in 2021.
Fidelity offers a well-rounded package of investing tools and order executions. The platform makes it easy for investors to earn interest by sweeping uninvested funds into a money market fund.
Fidelity offers a wealth of research and extensive pre-set and customizable asset screeners. While it has a wide variety of securities, it does not currently offer commodities or options on futures.
As one of the largest online brokers, TD Ameritrade is one of the best investing platforms for beginners.
The education offerings included in the platform are designed to educate novice investors and make them feel more comfortable. They also have a good mobile platform which is very similar to the traditional website and easy to use.
Tastyworks provides all the tools investors need for analyzing and trading derivatives. Packed full of video content offering up-to-the-minute trading ideas and its charting abilities can be overwhelming for novice investors, but those who understand the basic concepts will find the content and features incredibly useful.
Interactive Brokers provides an investing platform that is best suited to advanced traders and those looking for international trading options.
Interactive Brokers connects clients to 135 markets in 33 countries, which may be a little overwhelming for beginners but ideal for the more advanced trader. It is also worth mentioning that many non-US exchanges incur additional fees.
Charles Schwab is a full-service investment firm, offering technology and services to self-directed active traders and investors who would prefer the guidance of a financial advisor. Investors wanting to use ETFs to build a balanced portfolio will benefit greatly from The StreetSmart Edge EFT screener on the StreetSmart Edge platform.
Advantages of investing platforms
The advantages of investing platforms include:
Typically lower fees
While the fees can vary between platforms they are typically lower than using a broker firm. It is crucial that investors are aware of any fees they may be liable for as they will directly impact their returns.
Avoid broker bias
Broker bias is when a broker gives their client financial advice based on what will benefit them rather than what is best for the client. For example, the broker may receive a commission if they sell certain financial products.
Having the ability to monitor holdings in real-time gives investors the flexibility to make adjustments immediately to either encourage returns or prevent or limit losses. With a broker firm, this can be a lengthy process and the opportunity may have been missed.
Disadvantages of investing platforms
The disadvantages of investing platforms include:
The ease at which investors can invest via online investing platforms can make it easy for them to get carried away and over-invest. Which could leave them exposed to risks. Placing a limit order on the account can help safeguard against over investing.
A good stable internet connection is fundamental to online trading, if the internet connection becomes slow or drops out, investors could lose out on a lucrative deal. Computer glitches can also cause costly errors such as making a trade twice.
Can become addictive
Given the anytime access investment platforms provide, investing platforms can make investing addictive. From constantly checking performance to making adjustments to improve the performance of your portfolio, it is important that investors strike a balance when using investing platforms to manage their investments.